Before the event kicked off Friday night, Kiteboarding 4 Cancer (KB4C) had already achieved a significant milestone, celebrating its 10th anniversary. But by the time the last kite had come back to shore at the Event Site, it was clear that KB4C had reached an even bigger one.
Event organizers were still tallying up donations by the time this article went to press, with KB4C founder Tonia Farman noting Monday night that the community had raised $115,000 just online by Saturday morning. Regardless of what the final numbers turn out to be, Farman announced that KB4C had already cleared $1 million over the lifespan of the event.
For what started as a grassroots event back in 2007 with a questionable future, Farman was elated.
“No,” she said with a laugh when asked if she had ever thought KB4C would raise a cool million. “Ten years ago, we set the goal of raising $5,000 and we thought it would be a one-time event. We ended up raising $30,000.”
A total of 230 kiters registered for Kiteboarding 4 Cancer this year, helping to raise money for those aged 18-40 who have survived cancer or are still battling it to attend week-long adventure camps at Camp Koru. Farman started the event with her friend Garret Zallen, a pediatric surgeon at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland in August 2007, just a couple months after her brother, Scott, died of leukemia at age 19.
Not only was the event impressive in both the attendance and the amount of money raised, but conditions were ideal on both Saturday for the kite derby as well as on Sunday for the Never-Ever-Kiteboarded-Before Race and the Relay-on-the-Green. Normally, Farman said, there are lulls in the wind that prompt riders to have to take a break from their laps on the Columbia River during Saturday’s kite boarding derby so that they can switch out kites. That wasn’t the case last weekend.
“It was the all-time, best ever, for sure,” she said of this year’s KB4C, noting that a record 27 teams registered for the derby. “We had our best conditions for both days and we had our biggest turnout. Not just in participants, but spectators as well.
“I just don’t have a single complaint,” she added. “It was solid all the way through.”
Twenty-seven teams competed in the derby (a record, Farman noted), raising money through pledges as they attempted to run laps on the 1.25-mile course for six straight hours. There was also a great turnout for the Never-Ever-Kiteboarded-Before-Race on Sunday, particularly from the spectators. Those who never kiteboarded before are instructed by pros and semi-pros on how to prep a kite and launch it, then have to body drag to the sandbar and then race back in a mad dash to beat their fellow hapless competitors.
“It was comedy; it was hysterical… you would have thought there was no wind that day with the amount of people watching at the Event Site,” Farman said.
Much stayed the same for the 10th running of KB4C, but there were some minor changes. The foilboarding category that was new last year to the event was eliminated after receiving feedback regarding safety concerns (Farman explained that during a crash, the foil part of the board that is under the water can come up and potentially injure other riders in the close-quarters derby). As an alternate event, foil riders could go anywhere else on the Columbia, and were fitted with a device that recorded the distance traveled. The winner traveled 131 miles, Farman reported.
Another change was to the silent auction, which solely featured artwork from the Boards of Hope series, as opposed to various other auction items that have been up for bid in past years. Boards of Hope pays tribute to Farman’s brother, who spent much of his time in the hospital creating works of art during his 13-month battle with cancer.
“It’s really special because we had a lot of kids from the local schools participate in the Boards of Hope,” Farman said. “It made it really special and made it unique… People poured their hearts into these boards and had powerful stories that went into these boards.”
Many people also shared their stories on a different kind of board — a couple pieces of plain, white particle board — hung outside the Boards of Hope tent, where a message prompted attendees with the question, “What’s your story?” Some were written by survivors, some in memory of those who died, some were messages of congratulations, some were hopeful, and some expressed anger at the disease that kills nearly 600,000 people in the U.S. every year. The messages were the culmination of three years of KB4C.
“‘To the love of my life, keep up the fight!!’ — PP&F,” read one message.
“My mother (passed) away from ovarian cancer in 2003. She was an amazing woman who was robbed of her dreams,” read another.
One message simply read: “Kimmie (1), Cancer (0).”
Another, gave some good advice, for everyone: “Stay strong, and always smile for those who cannot.”
Top Overall Individuals
Grom Gormley — 71 laps
Eric Reimer — 66 laps
TIE for 4th — Nick Reed — 65 laps
TIE for 4th — Tony Bolstad — 65 laps
Groms — Under 18
Vetea Boersma — 63 laps
John Michael Harmon — 61 laps
Tyler Wysocki — 10 laps
Rachel Callahan — 65 laps
Carol Bolstad — 60 laps
Justi Vonada — 58 laps
Team Naish (Drew Christiansen, Mike Duhaim, Ewan Jasper, Katie Potter) — 75 laps
Hood River Frothers (Devin Carroll, Kevin Fahini, Paula Rosales, Pieree Vogez) — 68 laps
BIP Cabrinha (Matt Elsasser, Randy Orzeck, Alden Simmer, Brodie Sutherland) — 67 laps
Adam Withington — 131.6 miles, top speed 34.9 mph
Cory Roeseler — 106 miles, top speed 27.2 mph
Patrick Rebstock — 103.5 miles, top speed 35.1 mph